Barcelona – Madrid – Lisbon

I’m finally back from my 12-day trip to Europe! I should probably state as a disclaimer that this post won’t entirely be about running, but rather a combination of highlights from my trip and fitness-y things that we did.

Barcelona

The Hotel: We stayed at the Hotel Fira Congress in the L’Hospitalet de Llobregat area of Barcelona. The room was HUGE and had a fairly unobstructed view of the Olympic Stadium. Although we weren’t right downtown, we were only a few blocks from a metro station which could get us there in just under 30 minutes.

Total Miles Ran: Very little, haha. I decided to convert what was supposed to be an interval run into a more casual run near our hotel so we could explore a bit. Therefore, I only ran 2.5 miles while in Barcelona. That being said, I got to experience their running trail system which is leagues infront of Toronto. The only thing I wish I could change about my running in Barcelona, is that apparently there’s a pretty clear path to the Olympic Stadium from our hotel so it would’ve been nice to run up there. Next time!

Barcelona Run

Post Run. Definitely humid out there!

Cool Things We Did: La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia

A really awesome paella cooking class in the Gothic Quarter

Go to the beach, (which is 9km long – I also got my bag stolen on the beach with all of our money, ID, credit cards, and phones but a random man who was also on the beach saw who stole it and GOT IT BACK FOR ME! THANK YOU RANDOM GUY (I wished I remembered his name).

Favourite Restaurant: There’s this restaurant called La Pampa on the main strip leading up to the beach. SO GOOD. They have the best skirt steak and sangria ever. I actually watched a video on Facebook with Gordon Ramsay in it right before we left that was talking about how skirt steak his is favourite cut of steak because of how juicy it is. He didn’t disappoint. This restaurant also had the best sangria I had all trip, so this by far is my favourite restaurant. Daniel also had some really good duck breast at La Pampa and said it was his favourite meal as well.

Madrid

The Hotel: We stayed at Ayre Gran Hotel Colon in the Estrella neighbourhood of Madrid. Again, it was the same kind of set up with the hotel not being downtown but close to a metro station. The only downside with not being in downtown Madrid, was that they observe Siesta (basically, the whole city shuts down from approximately 2:00PM-8:00PM). There are restaurants and shops that remain open during Siesta, however they tend to be in more touristy areas, (downtown), so it was a little bit of a pain to have to commute for something a little as a latte. We were only in Madrid for one night and two days since we were using it as a midway point to get to Lisbon. I definitely didn’t see as much as I wanted to, so I totally want to go back.

Total Miles Ran: 0. This was actually intentional though; two days really wasn’t enough time to squeeze in a run, especially if we were trying to cram in as much site seeing as possible. That being said, we did do a bike tour of the city which was AMAZING. The bike tour went along the Manzanares; creating a paradise for runners and cyclists alike. The tour stopped at most of the historical landmarks around Madrid and had a halfway point at a cute pub called Sagas Farmers Cooks & Co. We munched on some pinchos and had the most delicious beer I’ve ever had – I don’t even like beer, so that speaks volumes. If you want to include the mileage on the bike, it was 7.8mi

Sagas Farmers Cooks & Co

Pinchos y Clara.

Lisbon

The Hotel: We stayed at a hotel called Hotel Dom Afonso Henriques. Daniel and I both agree that this was probably our least favourite hotel. The room was smaller than advertised and had a not-so-nice front desk woman who was working the day we check in. Since we were taking an overnight train, we knew checking in wouldn’t be possible so we just wanted to leave our bags and go get a coffee/explore. She begrudgingly took our bags and wouldn’t give us a city map or any recommendations of what to do to fill our six and a half hours until check in. It was decently close to the metro though and was also on the same metro line as the airport.

Favourite Restaurant: Does dessert count as a meal? If so, Fabrica de Natas is by far my favourite. Who doesn’t love fresh pastel de natas and americanos.

Total Miles Ran: 6.73mi. This was actually supposed to be a long run (10mi), however I ran out of water 3.5mi before I was supposed to finish. Normally, I could’ve toughed it out, however I was running in the middle of a heat wave (40°C)…nuff said. The hills in Lisbon are insane, especially in combination with the cobblestones. Kudos to any runners/cyclists in Lisbon! I have no idea how you do it.

Lisbon

Beautiful view I found while on my run of the Tagus River.

Cool Things We Did: Sunset Boat Cruise – super romantic, would definitely do again.

Tagus River Cruise

All smiles.

Ocenario Lisbon – Europe’s biggest aquarium.

Surfing in Peniche!!  – this was my “must do” for the trip. I never thought surfing would be so challenging. It takes quite a bit of energy just walk/swim out far enough to get a decent wave, but then to actually ride the wave after exerting all that energy is even more challenging. I stood up once, but Daniel was a pro and stood up six times! I swear, that guy excels at everything.

Although I’m extremely saddened by what’s happened in Barcelona, it’s a BEAUTIFUL city and I would 100% go back there in a heartbeat.

 

-Running Fast, Lifting Heavy

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Fun (active) things that are on our vacay agenda

Today Daniel and I leave for Barcelona! It’s my first time leaving the continent (North America), however since Daniel’s dad lived in Czech Republic for a number of years, he’s been to Europe quite a few times. We plan on breaking up our trip as follows:

August 3rd – leave Toronto

August 4th – arrive in Barcelona

August 7th – train to Madrid

August 9th – train to Lisbon

August 15th – leave Lisbon/arrive back in Toronto

While I plan to eat my weight in churrasco and tapas and drink my fair share of Sumol and sangria, we planned a decent amount of activities that are not only active, but ridiculously fun as well.

– City Bike Tour (Madrid): this was all Daniel’s idea, but I’m actually really excited for it. Since we’re in Madrid for only two days, we can cover a lot of ground this way. I’m not really sure what I can expect to see, but I’ll definitely do a review when I get back.

-Surfing (Lisbon…well, beach near Lisbon): this is probably what I’m looking forward to the most! Although I swim, I’m not really familiar with any other watersports despite having waterskiing available to me at my grandparents’ place. Right now, the tide is pretty low near Lisbon which is perfect for beginner’s surfing. Here’s to hoping I can actually stand up!

-Running Tour (Lisbon): this is still up in the air, however it would be a pretty convenient way to get my long run in while on vacation. Apparently, you can run through some really scenic parks, and some runners have said they ran just over 8mi while on one of these tours!

My wifi connection might not be reliable, but I’ll attempt to blog these activities as they happen. Worst case scenario, I’ll do a vacay recap when I get back to Toronto.

 

-Running Fast, Lifting Heavy